Friday, October 28, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, two more journalists are arrested in Iraq, Iraq's LGBT community in the KRG is targeted, US senators call for the White House to detail their plans for Iraq, and more.
Adam Kokesh: But first, a little background on Iraq where the last accepted agreement for US military withdrawal goes back to the Bush administration because Bush decided to pretend that Iraq was a sovereign country actually going back to when I was in Falluja, there was that hand over of power on June 28, 2004 when Paul Bremer, head of the Coaltion Provisional Authority -- in effect, ruler of the 51st state of Iraq, got tired of being in charge of what could only be described as a clusterf**k and symbolicallly handed over power to Prime Minister [Ayad] Allawi who, by the way, was a former Ba'ath Party member who had been living in exile for 30 years -- perfect qualifications to be an obedient puppet ruler and the "first official head of state since Saddam Hussein." Anyway because of that, there had to be a standard SOFA, or Status Of Forces Agreement, or as it is officially titled in this case, Agreement Between The United States of America and The Republic Of Iraq on the Withdrawal of United States Forces From Iraq and the Organization of their Activities During Their Temporary Presence in Iraq." It stipulated that US military forces would be withdrawn from the cities on June 30, 2009 and that all remaining US military personnel -- except for those necessary for embassy security -- would be withdrawn by December 31, 2011. So that's how it would have gone had, say, George W. Bush gotten a third term or John McCain was elected. But we elected a Nobel Peace peace prize winner, didn't we? Mr. President, reminds us if you will please, what did you say about Iraq when you were running for president?
Barack Obama, October 27, 2007: I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do, I will get our troops home. I will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.
Adam Kokesh: Now if I recall, Obama did kind of follow the Bush plan by stepping down first the occupation of the cities, right? Well here he is taking credit for it anyway.
Barack Obama: I want to say a few words about an important milestone that we've reached in Iraq. Today American troops have transferred control of all Iraqi cities and towns to Iraq's government and security forces. And this --
Adam Kokesh: Now when was that? When was that? Oh, yeah, June 30, 2009. Oh, well, then, he's got to at least have plans to get the remaining 20 to 30,000 or so troops out before the Bush timeline if only to save some face and keep them from demanding the peace prize back, right?
Barack Obama: As a candidate for president I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world. After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011. A few hours ago, I spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. I reaffirmed that the United States keeps its commitments. He spoke of the determination of the Iraqi people to forge their own future. We are in full agreement about how to move forward. So today I can report that as promised the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.
Adam Kokesh: Nope. It turns out that Obama thinks you're that stupid. If he makes a great speech about taking credit for ending the Iraq War, you'll all just grovel at what a great commander in chief he is and forget all about this.
Barack Obama: It is the first thing I will do, I will get our troops home, we will bring an end to this war.
Adam Kokesh: But it gets worse. What if I told you that if Obama had had his way, we would have troops in Iraq even longer? Yeah. Get this, this is the measure of how dumb he thinks you are. He announced the 'withdrawal' on the day that his plans for keeping troops there longer fell through when the Iraqi government rejected his request to allow troops to stay there with immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law. So, in other words, he tried to break his promise but took credit for keeping it when he failed to break it.
Adam Kokesh's Adam vs the Man is posting new episodes at his YouTube account. I'll add that to our permalinks this weekend. Repeating, Adam Kokesh's Adam vs the Man is posting new episodes at his YouTube account. Again, Adam Kokesh is an Iraq War veteran and we're going to stay with the topic of veterans for a bit longer.
Burn pits have resulted in many service members and contractors being exposed to chemicals and toxins that have seriously harmed their bodies. The Senate Democratic Policy Committee held hearings on this issue when Byron Dorgan was the Chair of the DPC. Click here to go to the hearing archives page. A registry is something that Leroy and Rosita Lopez-Torres are now working on. It should be noted that were it not for US Senator Jim Webb, the nation would already have such a registery. In October of 2009, then-Senator Evan Bayh appeared before the US Senate Veterans Affairs Committee explaining the bill for a registry he was sponsoring, advocating for it.
I am here today to testify about a tragedy that took place in 2003 on the outskirts of Basra in Iraq. I am here on behalf of Lt Col James Gentry and the brave men and women who served under his command in the First Battalion, 152nd Infantry of the Indiana National Guard. I spoke with Lt Col Gentry by phone just this last week. Unfortunately, he is at home with his wife, Luanne, waging a vliant fight against terminal cancer. The Lt Col was a healthy man when he left for Iraq. Today, he is fighting for his life. Tragically, many of his men are facing their own bleak prognosis as a result of their exposure to sodium dichromate, one of the most lethal carcinogens in existence. The chemical is used as an anti-corrosive for pipes. It was strewn all over the water treatment facility guarded by the 152nd Infantry. More than 600 soldiers from Indiana, Oregon, West Virginia and South Carolina were exposed. One Indiana Guardsman has already died from lung disease and the Army has classified it as a service-related death. Dozens of the others have come forward with a range of serious-respiratory symptoms. [. . .] Mr. Chairman, today I would like to tell this Committee about S1779. It is legislation that I have written to ensure that we provide full and timely medical care to soldiers exposed to hazardous chemicals during wartime military service like those on the outskirts of Basra. The Health Care for Veterans Exposed to Chemical Hazards Act of 2009 is bipartisan legislation that has already been co-sponsored by Senators Lugar, Dorgan, Rockefeller, Byrd, Wyden and Merkley. With a CBO score of just $10 million, it is a bill with a modest cost but a critical objective: To enusre that we do right by America's soldiers exposed to toxic chemicals while defending our country. This bill is modeled after similar legislation that Congress approved in 1978 following the Agent Orange exposure in the Vietnam conflict.
An important bill but one that never got out of Committee. Iraq War veteran Leroy Torres and his wife Rosie Torres have continued to battle on behalf of veterans exposed to burn pits and contiuned to educate the nation on the issue. The Torres have a website entitled BURNPITS 360. They are also on Facebook. It's a personal issue, Capt Leroy Torres was exposed to the burn pit on Balad Airbase. They note that a member of Congress is working on the issue.
From: The Honorable W. Todd Akin
Please sign on to be an original cosponsor to legislation that is important to our veterans. Numerous veterans have suffered serious health problems after exposure to open burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. This legislation will establish a registry, similar to the Agent Orange Registry and the Gulf War Syndrome Registry. This is the first step toward providing better care for veterans who have been affected by open burn pits.
This bill will also be introduced in a bipartisan/bicameral fashion with companion legislation being introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
This bill is scheduled to be introduced on November 3rd, so please contact my office soon to become an original cosponsor.
W. Todd Akin
Member of Congress
Rep. W. Todd Akin
Open Burn Pit Registry Act of 2011
Department of Veterans Affairs
Based on recent accounts of health maladies of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and a possible link to toxic fumes released in open burn pits it has become necessary to voluntarily track and account for these individuals.
This registry will ensure that members of the Armed Forces who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes while serving overseas can be better informed regarding exposure and possible effects. This legislation
is modeled after legislation that created the Agent Orange Registry and the Gulf War Syndrome Registry.
• Establish and maintain an open burn pit registry for those individuals who
may have been exposed during their military service;
• Include information in this registry that the Secretary of the VA determines applicable to possible health effects of this exposure;
• Develop a public information campaign to inform individuals about the
• Periodically notify members of the registry of significant developments associated with burn pit exposure.
In order to ensure that the Veterans Administration conducts the registry in the most effective manner, the legislation:
• Requires an assessment and report to Congress by an independent
• This report contains an assessment of the effectiveness of the Secretary
of the VA to collect and maintain information as well as recommendations
to improve the collection and maintenance of this information;
• The report will also include recommendations regarding the most effective
means of addressing medical needs due to exposure;
• This report will be due to Congress no later than 18 months after the date
which the registry is established.
• CBO states that this registry would cost $2 million over 5 years
We learned from this country's issues with Agent Orange that the need to get
ahead of this issue is of paramount importance.
The establishment of a burn pit registry will help the VA determine not only to what extent the ramifications of burn pits may have on service members but can also be of great use in information dissemination.
If you have any questions please contact Rep. Akin's office at 5-2561 and speak
Last Friday, Barack gave his big speech and Pfc Steve Shapiro died serving in the Iraq War. His death is one of three deaths in the eight days. DoD announced today: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Sgt. 1st Class David G. Robinson, 28, of Winthrop Harbor, Ill., died Oct. 25 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He was assigned to the U.S. Army Support Activity, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. For more information the media may contact Maj. Charlie Barrett at Third Army/U.S. Army Central public affairs at 803-885-8875 or email@example.com." And they announced Tuesday, "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Capt. Shawn P. T. Charles, 40, of Hickory, N.C., died Oct. 23 in San Antonio, Texas, from a non-combat illness. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. For more information the media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at 254-287-9993, via the internet at http://www.forthoodpresscenter.com , or email firstname.lastname@example.org ." The deaths brought the official Pentagon count of US military personnel who have died in the Iraq War to 4485.
In a letter released Thursday, the senators said the administration has sent conflicting signals on whether any troops would remain in Iraq. While Obama's announcement "apparently ends negotiations between the United States and the Government of Iraq on a long-term training and stability force of sufficient size to protect both U.S. and Iraqi enduring national security interests," the letter noted that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has also said the U.S. will continue talks with the Iraqis.
That section of the letter reads:
We note that on the same day the President made his announcement Secretary Panetta stated that the United States could negotiate with Iraq about future training assistance. We therefore also need to understand how any proposed number of U.S. forces involved with the training of Iraqi security personnel after December 31 would be able to effectively accomplish that crucial mission without legal immunity and other protections routinely extended to U.S. military personnel under status of forces agreements world-wide. Given the President's announcement that all U.S. military forces will be withdrawn by the end of the year, our committee should take the lead on establishing the public record on the Administration's plan and ensuring Congress's rigorous oversight of this consequential decision.
If the administration has nothing to hide, if the Democrats on the Committee feel that the administration has nothing to hide, I'm sure they'll schedule a hearing. And if there's no hearing scheduled, if the Democrats ignore the request, that will say a great deal as well. Leo Shane III (Stars and Stripes) observes, "No hearings have been scheduled on the issue so far."
While it is true that the administration suffered a diplomatic rebuff on Oct. 21 when the Iraqi government refused to grant immunity from Iraqi law to U.S. military forces, the U.S. is working feverishly to continue the war through the use of military contractors, i.e., mercenary soldiers.
Obama's announcement was greeted with joy on the streets of Baghdad, where people want nothing more than to be out from under the repressive U.S. occupation. But many have expressed a deep skepticism about U.S. intentions. "I believe that the full withdrawal will be only in the media but there must be secret deals with the Americans to keep some American forces or members of the American intelligence," said Raja Jaidr, a resident of eastern Baghdad. "They won't leave." (Associated Press, Oct. 22)
These suspicions are well-founded. Despite assertions by the U.S. government that its military mission is complete, the fact is that their "mission" has been an almost complete disaster.
Since the invasion in 2003, 1 million members of the U.S. military have been deployed to Iraq, of whom 4,482 have been killed and 32,200 wounded. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been expended while former President George Bush's promise to the ruling elites that Iraqi oil would more than pay for the war has gone unrealized.
For the Iraqi people the war has meant the almost total destruction of what was once one of the most progressive and prosperous countries of the Middle East. The war -- and the economic sanctions which preceded it -- killed millions, devastated the infrastructure and pushed back gains which had previously been made in the areas of women's rights and religious tolerance.
The White House has indicated that an arrangement may yet be worked out to permit some American trainers and experts to remain, perhaps as civilians or contractors. Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a staunch opponent of the U.S. occupation, has suggested Iraq should employ trainers for its armed forces from other countries, but this is impractical for a country using American arms and planes.
Regardless, the White House is increasing the number of State Department employees in Iraq from 8,000 to an almost unbelievable 16,000, mostly stationed at the elephantine new embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone quasi-military enclave, in new American consulates in other cities, and in top "advisory" positions in many of the of the regime's ministries, particularly the oil ministry. Half the State Department personnel, 8,000 people, will handle "security" duties, joined by some 5,000 new private "security contractors."
Thus, at minimum the U.S. will possess 13,000 of its own armed "security" forces, and there's still a possibility Baghdad and Washington will work out an arrangement for adding a limited number of "non-combat" military trainers, openly or by other means.
Al Mada notes that Parliament will hold an emergency session November 3rd. This is the one that Moqtada al-Sadr called for over the weekend. Among the things to be discussed? The status of talks with the US regarding 'trainers.' In addition, Al Mada notes published accounts stating the CIA plans to operate out of base in Adana (in Turkey) from which they will operate drones.
Gavriel Queenann (Arutz Sheva) adds, "The Obama administration wants to provide two currently in-service US Marine Corps attack helicopters, Reuters reported Friday. The highly unorthodox move is being considered as Ankara seeks to exact revenge for a major attack by Kurdish separatists." Today's Zaman notes, "US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow led an interagency delegation to Ankara on Thursday to discuss ways to improve US-Turkey cooperation against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a statement from the US Embassy in Ankara said." Al Mada reports that the Turkish Minister of Defense, Ahmet Davutoglu, has declared that the latest assault on northern Iraq will cease shortly but more will be coming. Today's Zaman notes that Massoud Barzani, President of the KRG, is supposed to meet up with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey, in the middle of next month.
In Iraq, the LGBT community has often been targeted. That's been most common in the Baghdad area; however, not exclusive to just Baghdad. Now Michael Luongo (Chelsea Now) reports on a new wave in the Kurdistan Regional Government:
As America prepares to leave Iraq, after an occupation dating back to 2003, a new wave of gay suppression might be under way. According to Ali Hili, chair of Iraqi LGBT, a London-based human rights group aiding queer Iraqis, police recently raided a gay party in Kalar, a small town in Kurdistan, in the north of Iraq, arresting 25 men. According to a news release from the group, "The men were attending a party at a private house on 15th of September when the police raided the address. After fierce protests against the raid by human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, all but three men have since been released from the city's Garmyan Prison. Several of those detained claim to have been subject to violent beatings while being held in solitary confinement. The authorities in Kalar refuse to disclose the whereabouts of those still in detention, the conditions in which they are held, or the charges they face." Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region of Iraq only loosely under central government control since 1991, has not seen the intense violence of Baghdad and the southern portion of the country, where an estimated 700 or more gay men have been killed by religious insurgents, militias, and other forces.
Despite a growing wave of persecution, one of the first independent evangelical, Bible-believing churches in Iraq has risen from the ruins of an embattled Baghdad --and it is thriving. In a city still besieged by blackouts and curfews well after the 2003 U.S.-led toppling of Iraq's longtime dictator, the congregation has increased 10-fold from 30 to 300. *Sammy Thompson, a 42-year-old Iraqi Armenian, who started the church by secretly leading Bible studies in homes -- something he was jailed for during the Saddam Hussein era -- is no longer on the wrong side of the law, but instead faces threats from his own neighbors.
Doreen Abi Raad (National Catholic Register) quotes Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Louis Sako stating, "The situation is still fragile and not stable. We don't know what will be next with the pullout. We are worried about the security, about our borders and the unity of our country. Who will watch them and protect them? Who will guarantee the unity of our land with the new sectarian mentality? The Iraqi army and police are not well trained. They don't have the appropriate weapons." And Baptist Press notes that Iraqis who converted from Islam believe they must hide their identities, "Whereas Assyrian Iraqis are accepted as Christians by ethnic identity, Iraqi Muslims believe Arabs have no business becoming Christians; it is not possible, according to society and the constitution."
You may remember a Tweet from a journalist mocking of high school students not long ago for protesting test scores. As we noted earlier this week, the students were successful in their protest and the scores have been changed. Al Sabaah reports today that 50% of graduating students benefit from the decision. Clearly the protest had a huge impact and although US outlets ignored it and ignored all the turmoil over the scores, for weeks this was huge news in Iraqi media. Friday protests continue. Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Tens of demonstrators in Tahrir square, mid Baghdad , denounced governmental random arrests, calling for national reconciliation. Aswat al-Iraq correspondent at the square said that tens of demonstrators denounced the arrests made by the security forces against ex-Baath Party members and military officers."
In part in response to the targeting of people in Nouri's 'Ba'athist' witch hunt, Salahuddin Province's council voted to go semi-autonomous yesterday. Alsumaria TV reports on the vote today and quotes the province's Secretary General Niyazi Oglu explaining, "The council's declaration is due to the fct that the central government is not granting Salahuddin province the constitutional and legal powers of provincial councils stipulated in law number 21 of the year 2008. The government is alo depriving the province from its share of financial allocations according to provinces pre-fixed vocational degrees while the province is subject to marginalization and arbitrary arrests without legal reasons. Iraq's centeral government is allowing appropriation around Imam's shrines in Samarra for confessional reasons, which is leading to demographic changes in the city that contradict with the Constitution's provisions." Aswat al-Iraq adds, "National Alliance MP Ahmed Habeeb described Salahuddin province declaration is 'not sufficient', pointing out that the aim of such move is to press the centeral government for more privileges." In related news, Fadhel al-Badrani (Reuters) reports that Anbar Province was the site today of a major protest against the "campaign to arrest former military officers and members of Saddam Hussein's banned Baath Party" and, in addition, "thousands demonstrated in towns and cities across Salahuddin province, including Samarra, Shirqat and Tikrit".
Press TV reports, "A senior Iranian cleric says the billions of dollars Washington spent on killing civilians in Iraq belonged to the 99 percent who are now protesting in US streets today." Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati is quoting stating, "The 99 percent (of the US nation) have stood up against the one percent. It is not in your (US officials) interest to consider the benefits of the one percent and suppress the 99 percent." Occupy Wall Street protests have taken place across the US and the cry is for the 99 percent to come together against the 1 percent. In Wednesday's snapshot, we noted that Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was participating in the Occupy Oakland action when police responded to peaceful protest with tear gas, bean bags and other projectiles and it was apparently that action which left Scott Olsen with a fractured skull and requiring hospitalization. Peter Henderson (Reuters) reports that Olsen was "awake and lucid" on Thursday. Kathy Pacconi, Scott's aunt, is quoted stating that when he came to, "I believe he knew his mom and dad were there, and tomorrow he'll be really happy to see his sister, Melissa, because they are really close. Hopefully, he'll start to improve with her visit." Will Kane (San Francisco Chronical) reports that Scott's friend Keith Shannon stated Scott "is expected to make a full recovery" although currently, "He's awake but can't talk. He can write but his spelling is off." AP reports that Oakland's interim police Chief Howard Jordan held a press conference today in which he declared that police responded with a low level of force -- apparently the criteria to upgrad that would require the use of live ammo?